Regardless of anyone’s opinion of Bradley Manning and his actions, if ever a trial should be public and allowed full media coverage it was this one.
270 media denied access to Manning trial, stenographers step in
“With no official transcript available to the public, the stenographers are being paid for their work not by the military court but by private donations.
The unusual arrangement is the work of activists with the Freedom of the Press Foundation who accuse US military authorities of making life difficult for media outlets trying to cover the proceedings.” http://www.thestandard.com.hk/breaking_news_detail.asp?id=37221&icid=a&d_str=
Of the stories on this topic that I’ve read, it’s not clear exactly what the setup and situation is for news organizations that want to cover the trial.
The story above says 270 of 350 news organizations that have requested access to the trial have been denied. That means 150 have been granted access. That’s a lot of media access.
But what exactly is that access? This story goes on to say that the judge presiding over the trial is allowing stenographers the media have hired to create a trial transcript because the court won’t release the official one publicly “to follow the trial in a room reserved for the media, with a closed circuit video feed of the proceedings.”
So what’s the scoop? Are the 150 members of the media who have been granted court access allowed to be in the courtroom? Or are they relegated to an auxiliary room with a closed from from the courtroom?
Then there is this story that further muddles the picture, at least for me.
Bradley Manning Judge Sidesteps Media Access Request
This story says, “But the stenographers have been forced to rely on loaned press passes from other media organizations, because the Military District of Washington’s media desk has declined to grant them credentials of their own.”
That is followed by this:
“The number of reporters attending the trial dwindled from 70 to around 20 just two days after it began, meaning there is ample room for the stenographers.”
I am confused.
I do know that 150 members of the media is a lot to have courtroom access. The most media seats of any high-profile trial I handled media logistics for was 48 in the 1996-97 O.J. Simpson civil wrongful death trial in Santa Monica, California. In that case, the media decided among themselves who would sit in those seats — leaving me to arbitrate any disputes. Those who didn’t get into the courtroom could watch the proceedings via a closed video feed in an auxiliary room.
With the approval and support of the judges, I also oversaw the media’s courtroom seating. Any seat that was assigned to a news organization or individual member of the media and went unoccupied for two days would be reassigned to another news organization on the waiting list for a courtroom seat.
So I’m not too sure what the problem is with media access to the Bradley trial.
This would be pretty bizarre if it was a regular court. But this is a court martial and I can tell you from having covered a few of these that the rules are very different. As I recall there were stenographers hired briefly by the press during the OJ civil trial. But I can’t remember why. Thanks for keeping us informed on what’s going on back there.
Remember note takers the media hired for the Rodney King-beating trial jury selection, Linda? The trial judge, Stanley Weisberg, let journalists see jury questionnaires for only the time a prospective juror was being questioned — sometimes mere seconds.